Thursday, 29 March 2012

Sunshiney, Gardeny Day...

Today I gave myself the afternoon off work (I could have stayed if I wanted to but I've been in every day this fortnight and needed to escape to frolic in the sunshine!) and played in the garden...

First I made my Christmas went together with only a little swearing...

Snail helped to hold the instructions!

Then I got alllll my seeds out and decided what to plant!

I put some courgette, pepper, mini-sweetcorn and a few of each flower seed into pots to grown on...and we've established that all varieties of onions HATE our garden, so I'm doing my spring onions in the big blue  they'll start off the the greenhouse then move outside to grow!

This year mum's given me an 'allotment' at the bottom of the garden to grow my seeds in (I feel like the little girl in the Secret Garden when she's told she can have a little bit of land to grow things in!).  This is it, everything between the two fence posts is mine!

 I cleared all the weeds and some leeks that didn't do very well last year from the back of my patch, then dug it over, raked it, chicken pooed it and raked it again...I planted a row each of spinach, parsley and broad beans.

I managed to pick a little basket full of leeks, kale and purple sprouting broccoli that had overwintered...

These plants gave us broccoli all last year and we didn't quite get round to pulling them up, I was just about to clear them away when I saw they were sprouting I'll leave them where they are for now, until I need the space for something else 

In the mummy part of the veggie garden we have potatoes....

Wild strawberries (rescued from a patch that seeded itself in the garden of our old house!) garlic and leeks...

A pea net and a row each of beetroot, carrot and salad leaves.

 And just 'cos it's pretty and pink...a new hydrangea in the flowery part of the garden!

I've had such a lovely day playing in the sunshine, listening to Mr frog croaking and Mr bird singing and Mr Bee buzzing!  Have you been playing in your gardens?  Have you started planting yet?

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Charity Shop Treasure...Cath Kidston Keyring!

I bought this today in my local Shelter shop...I don't usually buy new things from charity shops (I think it kinda defeats the object!) but I saw a box of these hidden away by the counter and had to have one...£3!  Why yes please!  They're sold in aid of Shelter for a raise the roof appeal, which I have googled and am unable to find anything else about...which is funny because there's a code on the back to enter online to 'register your £3 contribution and raise the roof' but the website doesn't seem to exist....I wonder if it's an old campaign....very strange...anyway it's pretty and lovely for my keys and I think Shelter do splendid work, (For about a month I worked as a 'chugger' for various charities (I didn't last long, I'm not a good sales person and I felt bad being paid to fund raise for charities) and Shelter was one of them...if you put on a red Shelter hoodie and stand in a town centre you would be absolutely amazed at how many vulnerable people come up to you to ask for help or tell you their tales of homelessness...I'll never, ever, ever forget some of the things I heard in those couple of weeks so I always give to Shelter or other homelessness charities when I can).

I'm very happy to have found it!  I love the little yellow dog! He's so cute! 

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Recent Craft and Crochet...Tea Light Holders, Pin Cushions, Salt Dough Buttons, Crochet Brooches...

I have been crocheting LOTS recently....mostly for the craft fair and for my Etsy shop, but some I've managed to keep some bits for myself too...

 Tea light holders, made from shot glasses and crochet...these are soo pretty!

Vintage tea cups and egg cups with crochet pin cushions....I loved the boot and mum loved the top blue teacup, we were going to keep them for ourselves but then someone bought them both! D'oh!

I made 118 salt dough buttons all in one go! Phew!  Only just saved them from burning in the oven too...I would have cried if I hadn't have been able to use them!

And a Looooot of crochet brooches and hair grips....I kept  a little red owl with a purple tummy and some orange hair clips for myself :D

I'm currently trying to finish mums Christmas present crochet cushion, as well as making a few more egg-cup pin cushions (it feels very odd, as a vegan, to be purchasing all these vintage egg cups!)...I'll be doing some more craft fairs so I'm trying to keep my stock up so I don't ever have to have a big panicky two weeks of making and preparation again!

What have you been making?  I'd love to know!  

Monday, 12 March 2012

How to Make Onion Bhajis...

After several more trips to the market to buy enormous onions I've perfected my onion bhaji method.  Most bhaji recipes say to use gram flour, which is made from chickpeas, it probably works better, but I have yet to find gram flour in the shops of Shropshire, so I just use plain white flour for now and they taste fine to me.


1 large Spanish onion (or lots of small onions!)
6 heaped tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon of oil
2 cloves of garlic
1 teaspoon chilli powder
1  teaspoon ginger powder
2 teaspoons turmeric
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons dried coriander leaves (or fresh is best if you have it!)
2 teaspoons whole coriander seeds
2 teaspoons whole cumin seeds
1 teaspoon salt

1. chop up the onion, I try to do it as finely as possible but this is down to personal taste...I try to chop it as quickly as I can 'cos it always makes me cry!  Crush the garlic cloves in a garlic press.

2. Put all the spices in a pestle and mortar and mix them together, grind the coriander and cumin seeds up a bit (It took me ages to get the amount of spice right in these, I find you have to add a lot to get some flavour into them, I think it's something you just have to experiment with you get right for you, so put in spices to your own taste)

3.  Put the four, oil and enough water to make a medium thick batter into a large mixing bowl, add the onion and spice and mix.

4.  Heat a 2 or 3 inches of oil in a heavy based pan, drop a little drop of mixture into the oil, if it fizzes up to the top and bubbles the oil is hot enough, so plop 4 or 5 level tablespoons of mixture into the oil, leave for 3 or so minutes to form a hard crust then use tongs to turn them over, keep turning until they're dark golden brown - usually takes mine about 6 or 7 minutes per batch, repeat until all the mixture is used up, this recipe makes around 15-20.  Once you've fished them out of the oil put them to drain on a piece of kitchen paper.  It's a good idea to make a small test bhaji check seasoning, batter consistency (if there are lots of bare patches on your bhajis you need to add more flour) and cooking time (and so you get to eat the mini bhaji! Om nom nom!)

5.  These freeze well, I put them in a bag in the freezer and re-heat them in the oven when I want them!

I've been trying to cut back on buying and eating pre-made/packaged foods...because I'm vegan and can't have soya there's not much in the way of prepackaged stuff I can eat anyway, I usually have onion bhajis, battered onion rings, Linda McCartney sausage and falafel in the freezer, but now I can cross bhajis off my shopping list, I much prefer the ones' I make, I reckon 30 bhajis cost me about £1.50 in ingredients to make and a little for gas on the cooker, which is much cheaper than in the shops, I know exactly what's gone in them and there's no plastic packaging to get rid of!  Hurrah!

I bet some of you make bhajis too...any tips?

Saturday, 10 March 2012

My First Craft Fair...

 I had a stall at a craft fair today!

It was fun!  There was a boy playing the guitar and a swing band (bit loud though!) and lots of pretty things to buy!

This was my mum made me the bunting, which says 'susie stars' on it and the table cloth is one that used to come out on our birthdays when I was little, I've always had my eye on it!

I have loads to think about now, mostly about pricing and how to display things, but it was really fun, I bought myself some vintage fabric to add to the pile and mum bought a lovely glass cake stand and won a raffle prize.  I was very relieved to actually sell some of my things (I kept having a panic that nothing would sell!) and quite a lot of my items were sold to adorable little tiny girls, which was not my target market at all, but Very cute!  

It all got too much for me at the end, my money belt was too heavy and the band were too loud and when I got home I had a nap (or two!)

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

A Craft Explosion...

Here is my 'craft preparation area'.  Also known as my mums living room floor.  Also known as 'I'm in trouble'!  I have my first craft fair stall on arm is doing a funny clicky thing from all the crochet and my sewing machine has been making ominous clunking noises....I'm nearly ready (unless you count the 4 Easter bunnies I have to crochet and the phone cases that I've pretty much given up on!)...I'm enjoying all the crafting, but I wish I wasn't in soo much of a rush to get everything made...I've been crocheting for about 2 weeks solid, I miss the real world!